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US to ease curbs on short-term insurance; MetLife sells Mexican pension fund biz

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US to ease curbs on short-term insurance; MetLife sells Mexican pension fund biz

President Donald Trump's administration has further opened the door for insurers to market short-terms plans intended to be available at cheaper costs but without the protections now covered by Affordable Care Act. It proposed a rule that would expand short-term plans from the current three-month limit to a full year. These plans will not be required to comply with federal requirements for individual coverage.

The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill to stop health insurance plans from covering abortions for workers in the state, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The bill would allow coverage only in cases such as rape or incest.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Mercury Insurance Co.'s appeal to overturn a California Court of Appeal ruling that held Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' 2013 order requiring the insurer to reduce its homeowner insurance rates.

Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. reported an underwriting loss of $19.7 million in fourth-quarter 2017, compared to an underwriting income of $1.4 million in the year-ago quarter. The loss included an estimated $4.7 million loss, net of reinstatement premiums, from the California wildfires.

The new approach to reinsurance that Brian Duperreault plans to employ at American International Group Inc. could have an industrywide impact on underwriting metrics for U.S. property and casualty lines. AIG intends to create a new Bermuda-domiciled company to reinsure its runoff general insurance lines, allow a quota-share agreement with Swiss Re AG involving new and renewal casualty business to expire, and enhance its North American property-catastrophe reinsurance program.

A company formed seven years ago in connection with the reorganization of Standard Life Insurance Co. of Indiana will soon be going away. Guggenheim Capital LLC plans to merge Paragon Life Insurance Co. of Indiana with and into the affiliated Guggenheim Life & Annuity Co. after concluding that it no longer made sense for the company, which experienced a considerable decline in the size of its balance sheet during the first nine months of 2017, to maintain its separate existence.

Principal Financial Group Inc. has completed the acquisition of MetLife Afore SA de CV, MetLife Inc.'s pension fund management business in Mexico, after Mexican regulators approved the deal.

Featured news:

Merck & Co. snaps up cancer drug developer; Trump team proposes insurance fix: New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. agreed to acquire Viralytics Ltd for A$1.75 per share in cash, valuing Sydney-based Viralytics at about A$502 million. Merck will gain full rights to Viralytics' lead product Cavatak, which is based on a proprietary formulation of a virus that has been shown to kill cancer cells.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Thailand to issue ICO, cryptocurrency rules in March; ANZ faces lawsuit

Europe: Lloyds plans £1B share buyback; ABN Amro, BNP Paribas in Luxembourg deal

Middle East & Africa: Commercial Bank agrees to sell UAB stake; dividend rule hits Nigeria bank stocks

Latin America: Grupo Elektra Q4'17 profit nosedives; Principal-MetLife Afore merger completed

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 1.81% to 31,431.89, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.21% to 21,970.81.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.14% to 7,236.82, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.37% to 1,017.62.

On the macro front

The Redbook, PMI Composite Flash, Existing Home Sales and FOMC Minutes are due out today.